I was at a play group this week with a group of woman from my ward. I'm assuming pretty much the only people who read this blog are my family, but if by chance someone has stumbled upon it who doesn't know me, I'm a Mormon and a ward is the congregation you meet with each Sunday. The woman were all standing around the table while the kids sacked the house (sorry Erin). We were talking about Hurricane Sandy and one of the woman said, "Did you know that the federal government has the power to delay the election, and that means it would go in favor of the other party." Mentally I knew exactly where this was going. You see, something like 59% of Mormons identify as Republican while only 14% identify as Democrat. The other 27% are split someway between these four groups. You have the true Independents like Dr. J or people who belong to other parties like the Greenparty. You have the Independents who are just sick of both parties and don't know what to do. You have the apolitical (I'm talking to you sister who didn't bother to register before the cut off...how could you not register! I mean SERIOUSLY!). Then you have people claiming to be Independent because they feel like it brings them more legitimacy in an argument but who when you talk to them it becomes pretty obvious they actually belong to one side or the other. You aren't fooling me neighbor down the street so just declare yourself already! But in this particular group I was with on Tuesday almost all of them are registered Republican and so I was completely surrounded.
The truth is I'm pretty use to it by now. I grew up in Arizona, a state that all my childhood stood solidly in the red. I've heard rumblings that by 2016 it might be a swing state, but for this year at least be assured it will still go Republican. I grew up in a religion where I've actually heard people say you can't be a Democrat and still hold a temple recommend. With a few notable exceptions my extended family is an Arizona, Mormon, Republican family. When I was a child my grandfather introduced me to Law and Order, C-Span, and Rush Limbaugh. Law and Order was the only thing that stuck. I've known the Republican Party my whole life and when I was 16 years old realized I wasn't a Republican and checked that Bill Clinton box in my Civic Class Vote. When I was twenty years old I told my grandfather I was going to vote for Al Gore. He told me I was throwing my vote away, just like he'd tossed my Nana's absentee ballot because he knew she had done the same. I told him luckily I didn't need his approval to know what was right for me. I've been a Democrat ever since and it has been easy for me. I know who I am and what I believe and I've just found the group I most closely align with. I've had a few compadres along the way. My Uncle Jim has been arguing the Democratic side since before I could understand why my uncles were arguing at family events. My Nana often voted as a Democrat before her death and I have one cousin Nyline who takes the brunt of our family displeasure when she post things on Facebook. And then there is my immediate family and with the exception of my one slightly apolitical sister we've all found ourselves leaning liberal after leaving the nest. It wasn't planned in any way but I think our shared family experiences and the fact that our mother has always encouraged us to look at all sides of an argument (even when it drove us nuts!) allowed us to really think through the issues without feeling the family pressures to conform. It also probably helped that she was an Independent all my growing up and I knew her to vote both Republican and Democrat. In fact even though I'm a Democrat I still feel the need to vote person rather than party and with policies I align with rather then those who proposed them. It just happens that my alignment is most often left. Every once in a great while I'll tune in to Sean Hannity or Fox news to see where I stand and yup, sure as rain I'm still a Democrat.
For the most part this election I've tried to stay out of the arguments. When most of your friends are Republican and most of them declared they were going to vote for Mitt Romney a year ago there just didn't seem to be a point in arguing all the time. Early on in the election cycle I hid anyone on Facebook who was posting a lot of political stuff. It was just to tempting to argue and the few times I did nothing was accomplished but people feeling angry about each other. I figured it would probably be better for friendships to just unhide them come January, because I do love people and I think we can be friends/family even if we don't vote for the same person. For the most part I've limited my political comments in person as well. And it works for me. Sure every once in a while I have to have a purge to my sister, or my husband, or my one local friend who I know is a Democrat, but for the most part I think I've managed to stay civil and friendly. But this was a time I just couldn't keep my mouth shut. And so when the woman said it would go in favor of the "other party", something switched on in my brain that said, "Wait that is my party. I'm voting in that party and to be honest it would be better for my friendships if I didn't have to bite my tongue while I listened to people dis on it." And so I said, "Oh, so you mean it would be in favor of my party." And to be honest folks, that pretty much ended the conversation right there.